COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina law enforcement leaders want parents to help head off dangerous criminal gangs in schools as our kids head back to class.
That is the message from law enforcement leaders as they look ahead and try to stay ahead this school year.
Wednesday was the third day for the state Gang Summit which brought together police, deputies, and prison guards from all over South Carolina. They say they're getting ready for the school year because so many gang members are young people who may take their gang activity into school with them.
Richland County's Gang Unit focuses a lot of attention on the county's school resource officers who are with students every day and can spot the newest signs and trends among gangs.
But police across the state say parents are the first line of defense because they know their kids.
"If you see any kind of change in them, then it could be something as far as peer pressure," Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood said, "It could be the gangs that are trying to get the kids involved in that type of activity. Look for a different change and your child. You know, in the next three weeks to a month."
Gang experts say gangs have become more subtle, less likely to wear the colors or use the kinds of signs or even use the same names they used to, which made them easier to spot in the past.
They also say social media has become a major part of how gangs recruit, meet up, and plan crimes.
The head of Richland County's gang unit says communication becomes crucial, throughout law enforcement, in the schools and in communities to spot signs that add up to a gang connection.